Direct and Indirect Pathways From Adverse Childhood Experiences to High School Dropout Among High-Risk Adolescents

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Adverse childhood experiences (ACEs) are associated with an increased risk for school dropout. This study examined pathways from childhood adversity to school dropout through academic, behavioral, emotional, and social pathways. Data were collected prospectively from 728 adolescents and their caregivers who participated in the Longitudinal Studies of Child Abuse and Neglect and from child protective services records. Path analyses revealed a direct association between ACEs and dropout, as well as indirect effects through poor reading achievement and elevated externalizing problems. ACEs were associated with elevated internalizing problems, which were negatively associated with dropout. However, ACEs were not associated with peer influences. Implications of the identified mechanisms in the ACEs and school dropout association for future preventive interventions are discussed.

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